Garden of Eden
Article from Bound By Ink Magazine 2012
By Paul Pike
What happens when the master becomes the muse? Ask Kelly Eden, an amazingly talented painter who suddenly found herself as the subject in her own life’s masterpiece. With a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and an unparalleled beauty, Kelly has spread her wings in the modeling world and is soaring toward living out her dreams in a world filled with art, expression, passion, and empowerment.
“In the alternative modeling industry, you make your own rules,” says Kelly Eden, dutifully applying her own makeup for a shoot with our photographer, Andy Hartmark. “It’s about the character and what makes each girl so special.” Indeed it is, and special is certainly the appropriate word to describe this budding alt-model dynamo, who has risen in the ranks of in-demand models at a rate unheard of to most aspiring tattoo models. Kelly’s resolve can only be matched in beauty by her exquisite face, a blend of 1940s panache and modern playfulness that echoes her resilience to live out her dreams on her terms. It is this resolve that has her in a bubbly mood despite waking up at 4:30 am Mountain Standard Time to catch a flight to Los Angeles for our two-part shoot, which has already kept her busy for seven hours, including a dreary two-hour stint on the 405 freeway that could drain the life out of just about anybody. As she effortlessly changes wardrobe between takes, she also changes looks — proving herself to be that rare breed of model who can take on many personas while still having a character of her own.
Kelly grew up in Colorado, with a life entrenched in art from an early age. “I’ve lived and breathed art since I was four years old,” Kelly says confidently. It is this same confidence that pushed her toward being accepted in the Denver School of the Arts, a prestigious high school in Colorado for the most talented of art students. She found a kindred spirit in the form of hyperrealism and oil painting and continued to nurture her abilities even after graduating as she earned entry into the Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design. A Dean’s List student, Kelly graduated and set her sights upon the next phase of her life as a tattoo artist. One look at Kelly’s phenomenal paintings would leave one scratching his or her head about why in the world she would choose to pursue anything other than that as an occupation, but all things happen for a reason and Kelly was about to find out why. “I felt no chemistry with tattooing whatsoever,” Kelly says of completing her year-and-a-half apprenticeship. Despite the discouragement of her situation, a photographer came to the shop she was working at to photograph the staff for a website. The shoot became a two-hour odyssey and Kelly, always contemplative about a career in modeling, liked what she saw. So did the photographer. A few shoots later, Kelly was on a new path, one she is walking today through her own garden of destiny that has her on the verge of moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of her modeling and painting dreams.
While she has already achieved cover-model status with a variety of publications, this painter turned muse insists that painting is still her primary passion, and she is currently working on a series of paintings inspired by her experiences in the world of alt-modeling. “I’ve been lucky enough to meet some friends in this industry, and these paintings will reflect what we have all gone through in pursuit of our dreams in this industry,” she says, finally getting a break to kick her feet up after a grueling day of traveling and shooting. Her experiences have undoubtedly shaped both the model and person she’s become, and while her external beauty is obvious, her confidence is perhaps the most admirable and enticing aspect of her. Kelly’s is a life that can only be lived with her in the driver seat, and she fearlessly sits behind the wheel, steering and speeding toward her dreams without any regard for the insecurities that often trap so many of us into complacency. We can all learn something from strong women like Kelly, and she was eager to chat with us about life, making choices, and why writing our dreams down often makes them come true.